RANDERS, DENMARK – Danish Crown, the largest pork processor in Europe, announced on May 18 that it had to temporarily close its processing facility in Skærbæk, Denmark, following an outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) among employees at its Westcrown facility in Germany.

Westcrown is a joint venture between Westfleisch and Danish Crown that specializes in pork deboning and marketing specialized products for meat processors in Europe.

“At Danish Crown we have set up a task force working on various plans for the coming weeks,” said Søren F. Eriksen, chief executive officer of Danish Crown. “When so many employees are infected at Westcrown, it is excluded that they can produce as normal in the short term. Over the next few days, we will get an overview of what opportunities we have for selling the sows we slaughter in Skærbæk, and on this basis we will make a plan for the slaughter next week.”

Danish Crown stated that 270 employees at Westcrown were tested. As of May 17, 90 employees had been infected with coronavirus. The pork producer said Westcrown’s management is in close communication with German authorities on the next steps to take before reopening.

In the last few weeks, several German processing plants have been forced to shut down due to COVID-19 infections. Since then, German public health officials started testing all employees at processing plants and boning companies.

The company said due to the temporary closure that its production will lag behind, especially given the fact there is a national holiday this week. The Skærbæk facility employs 80 people and usually processes 4,000 sows a week.